Sloppy Postmodernism: a British dining revolutionary crisis?

There’s nothing worse than sloppy post modernism in the restaurant trade.

In the good old modernist days, the days before eating in a restaurant was a fashion choice and when there was no such thing as British ‘aute Cuisine, we all bought into the fancy food that was prepared invisibly behind closed doors by chefs who sported a hat that looked like it just had risen in a very hot oven, and then whisked to your table in a flurry of activity accompanied by French adjectives and sounds of encouragement and amazement.

“Zut Alors!” the cry would go up from your guests when presented with the latest concoction of filigree pastry, icing sugar and chicken gizzards which was promptly set fire to. You would eat your meal in silence, not knowing, not needing to pretend to know anything about the vintage, the provenance of the ingredients or very much else about anything at all. You were happy to sit there in silence, happy in your modernist knowledge of your ignorance that you knew nothing and that was the way it should be.

Then came along post modernism and the world changed for the worse. Suddenly we all had to know how the food was cooked; we had to have deep intimate views of kitchens and waste chutes; we had to know where our gizzards were coming from and where they were headed after passing our lips and navigating our tortured guts: tortured mostly by the knowledge that we knew nothing and were now embarrassed by that absence.

And along with post modern catering came the obscene phenomenon of food on receptacles that had nothing to do with plates, knives, forks, condiments or anything else resembling food‘s traditional modernistic mores and fancies. No longer could we eat at tables but we had to dine on bookshelves; no longer was it enough to use knives and forks but we had to resort to curling tongs and long white sticks used for measuring tennis net heights. And to crown it all, as demonstrated by the Wewantplates movement, we had to stop using plates to eat off. We now use shovels. We devour paperback books. We imagine plates where plates once never were. We ruin our fancy clothes as a result and the only people happy in this dining revolution are the dry cleaners.

And to cap it all, we now have the unhappy but probably inevitable phenomenon of Sloppy Postmodernism: postmodernism that is so unable to take anything seriously, it can’t even take itself seriously enough to play the game any longer. In the dining world this means just one thing. Potato Wedges on Ping Pong Bats. The lack of commitment, the absence of attention to detail, the dearth of sheer pimping chutzpah is just galling.

At least it might be a sign we might be heading back to modernism and the good old new days of rude French waiters serving us some stuff we don’t understand, can’t pronounce and retch violently every time we take a mouthful.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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